Late weigh-in on this and really hesitated to do so as I watched it unfold from day 1, but as a longtime member of the Asian-American Christian (blogging) community, and also as one of the leaders of CAPA, the Asian-American pastors association of the ECC (serving alongside Greg Yee, Gail Song Bantum, Angela Lin Yee, & John Cho) I thought it was necessary and responsible to do so (although I claim my views as my own).
As I said I saw the whole thing unfold the minute Warren posted his tweet with the above pic and the caption “The typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day.” My ground-zero reaction was “is that a North Korean soldier?” and thinking “that’s not really funny” – but the offense for me stopped there and I went on with my day. You see, my opinion of Warren has evolved over the years, from an initial disdain for the whole 40-days / purpose-driven thing (IMO back then just too “pop” and shallow – although I never really read the materials) to a gradual understanding and an increasing respect and admiration for the man and his ministry.
It began when I became a lead pastor and understood what it meant to have a target on your chest and become the object d’jour of discussion among the people whether for praise or for criticism, out of an idle tendency to just talk about “what’s wrong with the church.” I discovered that EVEN in times of difficulty, personal or otherwise, that the critique was unrelenting, and that even if you were to experience an intense family loss (as did Warren when his son committed suicide recently), unknowing people would still rip into you, blindly, without a regard for where you are at in this present season of your life.
In that regard, I think there are very, very few people who will understand just how difficult it is being a lead pastor / public figure.
On top of that, I had actually begun reading Warren’s writings (ok, his tweets) and I found them to be not only encouraging to this pastor, but also surprisingly insightful. Whether pastor of a large church or a small, he’s got it, IMO, that intangible that makes a preacher insightful, a pastor loving, a leader effective. In my own twitter timeline, there are no other person’s tweets favorited more, and that, for personal reference so I might continually go back, re-read what he said and be encouraged, and I actually do this quite often, honestly.
So I couldn’t help but hurt a little to watch the firestorm unfold from the Asian-Am community directed at Warren after the above post. Do I think we should not say anything about racial injustice? Of course not. I’ve been in the blogging community long enough for anyone to know that I’ve not been absent at the barricades when time called for it in the past, and even recently. But I am starting to wonder about the flavor and the voice of our protest – which I want sustained, effective, weighty, meaningful, transformative, and not screechy, reactive, petty, and jumping to arms on every little gaffe. I just don’t think that’s an effective use of our energy and resources. Perhaps the paradigm of the “angry asian man” worked for a season when we struggled to find our voice. I think we’ve found it now. Let’s save it for more bigger-ticket items.